How to Sit with Lower Back Pain – A Posture Guide

How to Sit with Lower Back Pain – A Posture Guide

1st Mar 2022

Many of us find ourselves sitting for large portions of the day, whether through work or through hobbies. While this may be a necessity, staying seated for long periods can lead to back pain and especially pain in the lower back.

You may have good standing posture but this does not equate to a good sitting posture. And if your posture is poor when seated then this can create pain in your back that will persist when standing, especially if you have been sitting poorly for long periods of time.

The best advice for seated posture has been updated over the years so the advice that you might have heard when growing up may not be the best advice according to the experts today. However, the most recent advice from ergonomic specialists is accepted by most and is proven to reduce back pain.

Proper sitting position

A proper sitting position is one that reduces compression on the spine and promotes good circulation and blood flow throughout the body and the legs.

While some advice may be adapted according to your height and desired seating position, there are a few golden rules that you should always follow to avoid lower back pain when seated:

  • Do not cross your legs – this disrupts your circulation and is especially bad for people with sciatica
  • Keep your feet flat – this can be on the floor or on a footrest if needed
  • Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips and bent at around 90 degrees
  • Keep your back pressed against the backrest of your chair rather than slouched forwards – this is important as it provides support on your spine
  • Your shoulders should be relaxed and your arms should be bent in an L shape at the elbows
  • If there is a gap between your lower back and the backrest of the chair then introduce a lumbar support to bridge this gap and keep your spine fully supported

By following these rules, you will be keeping your body neutral and exerting as little pressure as possible on your spine.

How to sit at your desk to avoid back pain

If you regularly sit at a desk then you should have a set up that meets your needs. This means personalising the height of your desk, chair and monitor, and also the placement of your keyboard and other accessories.

Here are some tips when working at a desk to avoid back pain:

  • Your monitor should be in line with your natural level of eyesight, or at least no higher than two inches above this
  • Your monitor should also not be further than an arm’s length away to discourage leaning
  • Your forearms should be straight and bent at the elbows, with your keyboard easily within reach
  • Keep all of your equipment directly in front of you to avoid needing to twist or rotate your spine

You can also consider alternating between sitting at your desk and working at a standing desk if you have the option to. If not, then be sure to take regular standing breaks to prevent experiencing back pain.

100 or 110 reclined angle

In the past, it was thought that sitting with a 90-degree angle between your legs and your spine was the best way to sit. However, this is no longer the most advised method by ergonomic specialists.

Instead, you should now sit with your chair in a slight recline at an angle between 100 and 110 degrees. Be sure to always keep your spine straight, shoulders relaxed, and your back pressed against the backrest of your chair to maintain support on your spine.

You should still keep your spine straight and your hips neutral with no slouching between your hips and your back. By doing this, you will drastically reduce the pressure exerted on your spine and prevent experiencing pain.

Ergonomic chairs for lower back pain

Some chairs make sitting correctly easier or more comfortably than others. At PAM Health, we stock a wide range of ergonomic chairs that are suitable for individuals with lower back pain or for people who want to prevent themselves experiencing back pain in the future.

Check out some of our best chairs for back pain and make an informed decision before making your next chair purchase.

FAQs

Where should lumbar support be on your back?

Lumbar support should be placed at the curve of your back. Sit back in your chair and place your lumbar support in the gap that is found between your back and the backrest of your chair.

Not everyone has this gap and some chairs will naturally provide lumbar support whereas others will not.

How to sit with QL pain?

Quadratus Lumborum refers to the muscles between the ribs and the pelvis on either side of your spine. Pain in these muscles can be caused by slouching to either side or twisting your spine. Sit straight and keep the best practices for seated posture in mind to avoid aggravating your QL muscles further.

How to sit on a sofa with lower back pain?

You should keep the best practices for sitting in mind even if you are sitting on a sofa rather than an office chair.

This means to keep your spine straight, not twisted or slouched, and keep your knees below your hips and bent at around 90 degrees.

How to fix lower back pain when standing for too long?

Lower back pain when standing can actually be caused by your seated posture. You should try to correct your seated posture by sitting in a neutral position and taking regular standing breaks.

By doing this, you will reduce the pressure on your spine and this can prevent back pain from occurring when you stand or walk.

If back pain still persists, then seek advice from a medical professional.